Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Men of Bronze- Battle Report- The Corinthian War

The Corinthian War was a conflict between the city-states of Sparta and a coalition of rival states that lasted from 395BC to 387 BC.  The alliance included Thebes, Athens, Argos and Corinth.  The alliance was displeased with Sparta’s aggressive expansionism in Ionian, and Greece.  The majority of the conflict on land revolved around major battles near Thebes and Corinth. 

The Battle below is between Sparta and the Corinthian allies.  Many of the battles were recorded by Greek historians, but today’s has been lost to the shrouded mists of time.  This battle takes place after the battle of Nemea, but before the sea battle of Cridus.  An “Alliance” army composed of the survivors of the Battle of Nemea is trying to face down the approaching Spartans and their allies and check their successes on land.

The Forces

2 Drilled Hoplites              20 pts
1 Militia Hoplite                  8 pts
1 Psiloi                                 2 Pts
1 Archers                             4 Pts
1 Peltast                               4 Pts
-Total                    38 Points

2 Elite Hoplites                 24 Pts
1 Drilled Hoplites              10 Pts
2 Psiloi                                 4 Pts
-Total                    38 Points 

On the North side the Corinthians have deployed to do battle.  On their left flank are the Peltasts, then the Militia Hoplites in open order.  Next comes a  Drilled Hoplites unit in Phalanx formation.  Then comes the Cretan archers followed by another unit of Drilled Hoplites formed up in a phalanx.  The right flank is anchored by Psiloi unit in open order. 

The Spartans have drawn up on the south side of the valley.  On their left flank they have deployed a Psiloi unit of helots.  This is followed up by an allied Perikoi unit of drilled Hoplites in phalanx.  Next to them were the elite Spartans themselves, drawn up in a phalanx formation.  The right flank was anchored by another unit of Psiloi helots.

The north and south sides of the valley have some rocky outcroppings.  On the west side is a grove of trees that separates the Corinthian Peltasts from the Spartan Psiloi.  The rest of the valley is open ground. 

 Of note is that both sides are made up of paper stand-up models for the armies.  They are also carbon copies of the sample armies found in the Men of Bronze book for the represented forces. 

This is a pitched battle.  Each side is attempting to collapse the enemy army. 

Let us begin! 

Turn 1
The Spartans have 5 Arête points and the Corinthians have 6 Arête Points.  The Spartans bid 0, and the Corinthians bid 0 for Initiative.  Therefore, they roll off.  The Corinthians win and go first. 

The Spartan generals watch as the Corinthian advance forward.  They do not try to steal the initiative.  Oddly, the Militia Hoplites are still in open order which allows them more maneuverability, but at a great risk to their safety if charged. 

The Spartan Psiloi move forward and slide in front of the Hoplite units.  They are to act as skirmish screen and to shield the phalanx units.  The Spartiates march forward, but the Perikoi hold back.

Turn 2
The number of leaders on the board did not change, so the Arête points stayed the same as well.  Again, neither side made a bid for initiative, perhaps waiting to see how the other sides’ battle line took shape.  The Corinthians win the roll-off again.

The Corinthians again move forward unopposed by the Spartan army.  The Peltasts barely make the edge of the grove.  Meanwhile, the Militia Hoplites finally form into a phalanx unit (costing 1 Arête point) and their plan to support the Corinthian Drilled Hoplites with a flank attack is clear.  The question is if the Spartans will willing march into it.

For their part, the Spartans are content to let the battle play out.  The Psiloi complete forming a solid skirmish screen in front of the Spartan battle line.  The Hoplites slowly and carefully march up behind.  They are confident in the Spartan skill-at-arms and are being cautious not to blunder it away with a rash attack. 

Turn 3
Arête points are redistributed again the same as the previous turn.  The Spartans bid 1 Arête point to go first.  The Corinthians bid 0, unsure what the Spartans plan is.  The Spartans go first. 

A unit of the Psiloi rush forward and use an Arête point to move and shoot.   They barrage the Cretan Archers with javelins.  It reduces the archers Courage by 1 to 3.

The Corinthians decide to spend an Arête point to try to steal the initiative back, and succeed.  The Cretan archers shoot back and decimate the Psiloi and reduce them to 1 Courage.  However, they do not break.  The Spartans try to steal the Initiative back, but fail.     

The Corinthian Psiloi move up and their barrage of Javelins sends the Spartan helots scurrying.  They are removed from the board as their Courage was reduced below 0. 

On the opposite board edge, the Peltasts gain the grove and use an Arête point to skirmish and move through easily.  The rest of the Corinthians form a solid battle line. 

The Spartans rush forward with their second Psiloi unit and throw at the Cretan archers again.  The Cretans are reduced to 1 Courage.  Their fate probably lies in the next initiative results.

The Spartiates move up quickly behind their skirmish screen.  The Perikoi break into open order and move to follow their Spartiate comrades, using the time before the true battle commences to get into a better position. 

In the End Phase, all the Spartans passed their Discipline check to avoid Collapse after losing a unit. 

Turn 4
This time the Spartans only get 4 Arête points to the Corinthian 6.  The Spartans bid 2 to get initiative, but the Corinthians bid 3.  They go first. 

The Corinthian Psiloi move up and launch their Javelins at the Spartan Helots.  Only 1 hit, so the Spartans are down to Courage 3.  The Spartans try to steal the initiative with an Arête Point.

The Spartans succeed!  The Psiloi throw Javelins into the archers and reduce them to 0 Courage.  They flee the field.  The rest of the Spartans slowly move up, but are slowed by their own skirmish screen.  The Perikoi rush behind the Spartiates in open order unsure where to deploy their phalanx. 

Seeing the gap in their line, the Corinthians use their drilled abilities to try to close it.  Both Drilled Phalanx units use an Arête point.   The Militia Hoplites slowly move forward to set-up an attempt at a Flank attack.  The Peltasts also move from the cover of the Grove and begin to swing in the Corinthian right flank. 

In the End Phase, a Corinthian Drilled Phalanx and Psiloi started to waiver from the Cretan’s destruction. 

 Turn 5
The Spartans get 4 and the Corinthians get 5 Arête points.  The Corinthians bid 0, and the Spartans bid 1.  The Spartans go first. 

The Perikoi head back to the Sparta left and form phalanx to repel the Corinthian Peltasts.  The Corinthians then decide to try to steal the initiative, but fail.  The Spartan Psiloi form up and use an Arête Point to charge the Corinthian Psiloi who are wavering.  Despite having 4 dice for charging, the Spartans only hit once, and the Corinthians return the favor.  There is no pushback. 

The rest of the Spartan Battle line waits, unwilling to get caught up in the skirmish battle to their fore and potentially expose themselves to a counter-charge by a drilled Phalanx unit. 

The Corinthians spend an Arête Point to rally both of their wavering units.  The Corinthian Peltasts break free of the cover of the grove, and use an Arête point to toss javelins at the Spartiate lines, but they all miss!

The Corinthian Drilled Phalanx reforms into phalanx, spending the last Corinthian Arête point.  The two Drilled units then move up to present a united front to the Spartans. 

Turn 6
The Spartans get   4 and the Corinthians get 5.  Both sides bid 0, so they roll off.  Spartans win. 

They start by using an arête point to charge the Peltasts with the Perikoi.  The peltasts use an arête point to try and evade.  The Peltasts roll 1 BW and move back, but the Perikoi’s charge easily takes them into the fleeing skirmishers.  The Perikoi cause three courage loss to none, but he Peltasts stay in the combat and pass their discipline check. 

The Corinthian Psiloi route the Spartan helots in combat.  The Corinthian Psiloi fallback as the Corinthian Phalanx moves forward.  The stage is set for the decisive showdown. 
In the End Phase, the Spartans all passed their Discipline Check after seeing the Psiloi chased off.

Turn 7
The Spartans have 3 Arête points, and the Corinthian have 5.  The Corinthians bid 3, and the Spartans bid 0.  They decide to hold them for dice re-rolls.

The Corinthian Drilled Phalanxes start by charging into the Spartiates.  They use their last arête points to pull off the charges.  The Militia and Psiloi are just a hair too far away to provide support!  Next turn? 

The Spartan Perikoi rundown the Corinthian Peltasts and rout them.  However, that is at the fringe of the battle and the loss of the Peltasts will not cause any Discipline checks in the End phase.  No one really saw it happen. 

The main collision is spectacular and loud, but each unit only loses 1 Courage between the main units.  However, the use of arête re-rolls allows the second Spartan unit to inflict 2 courage loss on the second Corinthian unit and push them back into their allies, depriving them of a charge bonus and forcing them to join the melee in support. 

Turn 8
The Spartans get 3 and the Corinthians get 4.  Neither bids for initiative.  Spartans win the roll-off. 

The Perikoi break formation and set-up for a successful charge next turn into the big melee.  The Corinthians decide to take the initiative and succeed.  The Psiloi charge into the melee on the opposite flank of the battle. 

After all the combats were resolved, the Spartan commander was pushed back 2 inches and has 2 Courge vs. 3 from the Corinthian commanders unit.  The Psiloi flank attack proved invaluable.  On the other flank, the Spartans pushed back the Corinthian forces despite the Militia's support. 

Turn 9
The Spartans have 3 points, and the Corinthians have 4.  The Spartasn bid 1 to go first and the Corinthians bid 0.     

The Spartans Perikoi use point to form phalanx and then charge into the battle using all the Spartan arête points.  The fighting was fierce but the Corinthians were reduced to 0 Courage and the Drilled and Militia Unit fled. 

On the other Flank, the Corinthians managed to route the Spartan commander and his phalanx with the help of the Psiloi. 

In the End Phase, Collapse tests were triggered by the losses.  All units stay in the game.

Turn 10
Both sides get 2 tokens.  Neither side bids for initiative.  Corinthians win.

The Corinthians break into open order and quickly try to get into position for an attack.  The psiloi rush forward and throw Javelins at the weakened Spartan unit but fail to finish them off, as their Phalanx protects them. 

The Spartiates also break into Open formation and scatter away to set-up a new phalanx line.  This allows the Perikoi to pay an arête point and charge the open order Corinthian Phalanx.  The charge is decisive and the Corinthians break and scatter under the organized assault. 

With the Corinthian commander fleeing, the Psiloi decide to leave the field to the battered Spartans and their allies. 

The Perikoi of the Spartans win the day after the Spartiates took a drubbing and the Spartan commander was killed on the field of battle.  Perhaps that is why the historians failed to record this battle as the Spartans quickly swept it under the carpet after the much more decisive battle at Nemea. 

Despite the Spartans victories on land, their foes were powerful at sea and they could not bring the might of their land armies to bear on them.  The war would continue as Sparta started building ships.            

I actually plan on potentially playing game of Poseidon’s Warriors next to continue the story of the Corinthian War.  I have Galley templates ready to go now.  Should be fun.   

The Men in Bronze rules are a work-in-progress for me, and this was my first test on the actual field of miniature battle.  Previous test runs were simple exercises on paper.  Overall, the game ran pretty well.  The bidding process for Initiative was cool, and the use of Arête points was a fun hook. 

The mechanics worked well for the most part, BUT I think I will need to go back and review Collapse and Wavering tests as they seemed too easy to pass, even for skirmisher units.  Perhaps as the list goes down you get modifiers to the success Target Numbers or disciple dice reduction.     

The end showed the importance of Phalanx vs. Non-phalanx formations.  The rules were intended to highlight this, and I think they do.  Overall, as I played through it felt like the descriptions of Greek Phalanx combat I have read.  There was an opening skirmish phase, followed by the big push of Phalanx, which would lead to one flank breaking the other, and the army fastest able to respond to their local successes would be the winner.  That is exactly what happened in this battle.

Overall I am pretty happy with the results. You can find the WIP rules on my blog in the links on the side under Work-In-Progress Games.    


  1. Neato! I like the resource management aspect of the rules; and your paper armies.

  2. Thanks Euan and WELCOME! One of my 2017 goals is to slowly replace the paper Greeks with plastic ones. Maybe by 2027 I will have two Greek armies painted!